BEREA — With rumors flying, Pat Shurmur spent the majority of his press conference Monday dealing with questions surrounding Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis. An ESPN report, prior to Sunday's game, said there were some unnamed sources within the organization that questioned Hillis sitting out the game against the Miami Dolphins a week ago.
So was Hillis really sick?
"He and I had a conversation and he didn't play," Shurmur said. "Yesterday, he was ready and he played. The young man was sick and didn't play. That was the end of it."
Shurmur said he heard no backlash from other players about Hillis' decision.
"No, I did not hear any grumbling from players (about him not playing)," Shurmur said. "I think there's a lot going on with that question and that's not the case. He played. What's being talked about is a non-issue. He's our running back."
Shurmur said he thinks it is unfortunate that so much time is being spent talking about the subject.
"When information gets out, you would like to know where it comes from," Shurmur said. "We prefer to keep business in house, but that's tough to do. I can't control how people feel, but it's hard to say because nobody had their names on those comments.
"We're talking about something that happened two weeks ago. Information spreads and I understand that. My understanding is he was sick last week."
Other questions were covered including was Hillis' role reduced against the Titans because of his contract situation and where does he fit in the West Coast offense?
"I think it's important that Peyton plays most of the time," Shurmur said. "He played about 50 to 55 snaps. There were times when (Hillis and Montario Hardesty) were in there together. Peyton should get the majority of the playing time."
Hillis carried 10 times for 46 yards and had five receptions for 23 yards. He touched the ball five times on the team's nine-play opening drive.
Shurmur said the game plan was tossed out when the Browns fell behind. That is the reason Hillis was used the way he was.
"I think Peyton Hillis fits this system extremely well," Shurmur said. "I think it's important he touches the ball. He was involved (in the offense) when it was 24-6 and quickly became 31-6.
"I would never think of throwing the ball 61 times. Look at the game and see how it played out. The game changes as the score changes. You try to get yourself back into the game."
Hillis was the focal part of the Browns offense in 2010 as he rushed for 1,177 yards, caught 61 passes and scored 13 touchdowns.
Through the first quarter of the season, Hillis played in three games and he has 54 carries for 197 yards (a 3.6 yards per carry average) with two touchdowns and 15 receptions for 76 yards.
"He's a very important piece of our offense and what we're trying to do," Shurmur said.
Mack has Surgery: Shurmur said that center Alex Mack came in Monday, showed symptoms of appendicitis and he will have an appendectomy.
Shurmur was unsure of how much time Mack would miss, if any.
"We have some options," Shurmur said. "(John) Greco is a center and Shawn Lauvao can play there."
Haden Hurt: Cornerback Joe Haden sprained his left knee, but there is no new information on him.
"He has been evaluated and they are calling it a knee sprain," Shurmur said.
Shurmur said Haden had an MRI.
"My understanding is he doesn't need surgery," he said. "He may miss some time, I don't know."
Shurmur said he will not practice.
Moore Time: Tight end Evan Moore spoke out after the game of his disappointment in not being involved in the passing game.
Shurmur said that Moore played about 20 snaps and one of the reasons he hasn't been as involved is because the Browns were only in the red zone once.
He had played around eight to 10 plays in previous games.
Moore caught one pass for 15 yards and was targeted just twice in Sunday's loss to Tennessee.
Injury Update: Other than Mack and Haden, defensive back Sheldon Brown (groin) came through with no problems. Wide receiver Josh Cribbs suffered a slight knee sprain. Offensive lineman Tony Pashos came trough fine with just "general soreness in 91 snaps." Wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi had a shoulder sprain, but Shurmur said it was not significant.
Montario's Drops: Running back Montario Hardesty dropped several passes, but Shurmur said they are correctable.
"Sometimes, the tendency on check downs is to run before you catch it," Shurmur said.
The Numbers: The Browns rank 21st in overall offense (28th rushing, 17th passing). Defensively the Browns are ninth overall (25th rushing, 4th passing).
The Schedule: With the bye week, Shurmur said the Browns will practice Monday through Wednesday and be off Thursday through Sunday.